Mad Men Chat, Episode 11: Where we’ve already quit tobacco

Mark: Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce is bottoming out. They’ve been fucked over by Lucky Strike and new clients are keeping away like they have bedbugs. “We’ll see you in six months” seems a polite way of saying “sorry, but we know you’re fucked.” Is there any way the company can pull out of this death spiral?

One way – which I’ll get to in a sec – was Don’s stroke of genius. The other was an inter-company fund raiser. You know it’s a bad sign when you’re paying to keep your job. I’m pretty sure they said it was enough to keep a skeletal version of the staff around for six months, but we’re already seeing some hemorrhaging: the short guy who was pretty wicked is gone (took it like a pro, too) and I’d imagine Freddy is gone too.

Am I the only one hoping we see some of these people back? But the real conflict w/r/t the money came from Pete Campbell, the only partner who doesn’t appear to sleep in money and didn’t even have half the capital required (not to mention it would leave him and his family without any dough). I honestly feel for the guy sometimes – he’s often over his head and it’s not always his fault (he certainly did a pretty good job getting his father in law to come aboard). It was really sweet of Don to pay his share for him in secret, though. Pete did Don a huge favor a couple episodes back and I’d argue this was Don’s way of paying him back.

Heather: I think Don was obligated to do this for Pete. He knew Pete’s situation and I would definitely argue as well that this is Don’s way of paying him back for keeping his true identity quiet and losing a big deal in the process. It was pretty much the first genuinely nice thing Don’s done in ages, especially for Pete of all people.

Jenn: However it also made me note: how rich is Don Draper that he can pay for his village apartment, the home for Betty and the kids, send them money (which I assume he does), manage his living expenses, pay his share and an extra 50000 for Pete Campbell? God damn he must be loaded.

Mark: Before I stray too far away from death knells, I want to bring up Midge for a second. It was sad seeing her succumbing to her vices – heroin, in this case – but it really made me think about Don. He was really headed into a dark place this season, especially in the episode where he blacked out for a whole weekend and slept with a waitress. He’s seem to find himself to a degree, but with Midge I feel like he’s getting a wake up call: this is him if he doesn’t get his act together.

Jenn: Midge was depressing. I think it was just another reminder to Don that things can’t stay the same way forever. The way you live your life takes a toll. She quickly succumbed to her vices, as he is struggling with his. I think that’s what the painting will do for him, remind him of what she’s become and what he could become. Maybe that’s why he had his stroke of genius while looking at it. He was concentrating on not letting a bad situation get the better of him, and he found a way to turn his work problems around.

Heather: That whole part of the episode made me furious. But, Midge definitely is him if he doesn’t get his act together. I don’t think he would end up becoming her to that exact degree, but he would be heading down a similar path if he were to continue wallowing in his own self pity. I love how he just left with the painting. I was hoping he would put it out the door when he originally thought about it, but then he sat and pondered it. Came up with his excellent idea for the letter.

Mark: Yeah, that’s why I think it’s no wonder that her painting is what inspired Don’s Act of Genius for the season: a full page ad in the Times about why he’s giving up tobacco (although not literally). It’s like he saw what could happen and decided to make a huge leap of faith.

Heather: I think what he did was excellent. It’s going to open doors for them all in some kind of way, or maybe just him. Who knows. Not right away, but eventually.

Jenn: It’s definitely a ballsy move. I think it’s going to pay off in ways they haven’t realised yet. The opportunity to do an anti-smoking campaign could help them in a big way, and now they’re totally going to avoid all the laws and restrictions that are going to come down on tobacco advertising later in the decade. SCDP is officially ahead of their time.

Mark: Which brings up a question I think is the crux of this episode: was Don’s ad a stroke of genius? I’d argue it was. It reminded me of a line from the Vietnam war: “We had to burn the village to save it”; in the context of the war, it meant a village was destroyed to keep it from being overrun by the Viet Cong; here it meant that to really make SCDP stand out, they had to cut themselves from the easy money of tobacco sales – a move that could kill the firm, but could also place it in a sphere all it’s own.

Heather: I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Jenn: Well I wouldn’t exactly have compared a fictional act of defiance against tobacco giants to fighting the Viet Cong, but I get what you mean.

Mark: Quick question: in the Mad Men world, how famous is Draper? He was able to get a full page ad in the biggest newspaper in town on what looked like very little notice. He’s gotta have some pull!

Heather: Oh, he has to.

Jenn: This is what I was saying about the money thing! Is Don Draper Batman? How is he capable of so much?

Mark: Elsewhere, we saw our favorite creeper back: Glen, who is some kind of fatass football player (the way he waddled away from Betty makes me wonder how much time he actually spends on the field). Him and Sally have been hanging out on side for a while and he’s kind of being a bad influence on her, all trying to get her to lie to her mom.

Heather: The kid creeps me out. I understand Betty’s frustration with it but I really don’t like the way she’s handling it. Sally says to her “You don’t know him at all,” and Sally is right. Glen definitely isn’t the best influence and he’s totally up to something. He is severely scared of Betty (which I laughed my ass off at), though. I think there’s something wrong with him. I can’t quite pinpoint it. All they’re doing right now is talking. I don’t know what Glen is up to.

For all we know, he could just be a complete loner and in dire need of someone to talk to. Sally could be that person. We haven’t been provided with enough of that part of the story to make any kind of definite judgment on it. Something’s weird about it, though. Sneaky Glen.

Jenn: I died laughing when he dropped the Coke bottles and ran from Betty, only to get winded about five feet away. I think he’s a creep but Sally does need at least one friend her age she can talk to. He seems to be the best we’ve got right now.

Mark: Yet given how vindictive and self-centred Betty can be, I wonder if he’s such a bad figure: he genuinely seems to like Sally for who she is, something I’m not sure she gets a lot of. She caught the two hanging out and talking and used it as a reason to finally move out of Don’s house; it was completely a move to destroy Sally’s relationship with Glen. I almost wonder sometimes if Betty wants Sally to be completely dependent on her.

Heather: I think Betty wants Sally to be the princess of little girls, like she IS. Sally is defiant in playing that role. Betty can’t handle it. She can’t relate to her at all. I don’t like that she’s moving Sally out of the house solely to dismantle the friendship she has with Glen. I think the whole situation should be approached. I also have been seeing something nice in Glen, which is what I was trying to explain earlier.

They seem to have a nice friendship going, and Sally, although still angry with her mother, doesn’t really let Glen have pull anymore. Or doesn’t seem to. She has someone to talk to that’s close enough to her age about the subject and Glen has the same.

I think Betty’s move is going to make Sally worse. If Glen is involved, it will probably be something inappropriate for children of their age. I hate suggesting that, but it feels like they’re going there. Sally is already exploring herself.

Jenn: I hope wherever they move, Sally befriends some rebel kids from down the block who like smoke outside the malted milk shop or something equally scandalous. I want Sally to find the ten year old equivalent of Peggy’s artsy hipster friends. Go out and party before dinner, talk to boys, listen to rock and roll and damn the man Sally Draper!

Mark: I also liked how Betty is so reluctant to stop seeing a child psychologist. It’s kind of depressing how messed up Betty is, really. Part of me really hopes they go into her past somewhat and get to why she’s like that.

Heather: I think they will, eventually. The child psychologist noticed her reluctance to stop seeing her and is probably going to do her best to get Betty the help she needs while she is still involved. I hope.

Mark: Is Bert Cooper gone forever? Or did he just act rashly with a head full of steam? He’s already somewhat distant within the company, so it feels like they were leading up to him leaving somewhat.

Jenn: Right? Do I just call it SDP now? I need to know!

Heather: Bert Cooper is a bit of an eccentric. I think he’ll be back.

Mark: What about Roger? I’m perfectly willing to put the blame on this on him, regardless of how much is really something he could have done. Will he be forced into leaving?

Heather: No one knows he knew about it other than Joan. I don’t think he’ll be forced to do anything unless that information gets out.

Jenn: I used to think Roger was on his way out this season, but I think it’s turning around. He faked that Lucky Strike ending pretty well, and he might prove to be valuable bringing in new clients. We’ll see.

Mark: I really like Pete and Trudy, but I can’t see their relationship lasting. She went out of her way to emasculate him – “Don’t ask my dad for the money” – over the cash. I feel like we’re already seeing the cracks in their marriage.

Heather: At the same time, though, she was right. I see where Trudy is coming from on this. Her father has stuck his neck out for Pete and Pete belittled him, yet her father is still willing to play the excellent father-in-law. They are stuck for money and him handing over $50,000 was simply unrealistic and not going to happen. I was surprised with what she said to Pete, but that’s the first time we have seen her get angry with him like that (or am I just forgetting prior incidents here?).

I’m not so sure their relationship won’t last, but they’re going to experience some hard times. This is where they will learn if they are strong enough to keep their marriage together through thick or thin.

Jenn: Also, they named their baby Tammy? I was expecting something much more WASP-y like Elizabeth or Barbara. I just can’t picture Tammy taking in a game of tennis at the country club before heading back to Yale.


1 Response to “Mad Men Chat, Episode 11: Where we’ve already quit tobacco”

  1. 1 Chelayne
    October 17, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    Hey guys I like this chat! I am starting to get into mad men a little bit and find it interesting to hear what you guys think of each episode. Just as Mark gave me tips for the podcast I do with Jenn, it would really be a lot easier to read if you guys bold your names and give the chat more space by separating the paragraphs. Maybe some pics too and cutting each post to a snippet on the main page so you don’t have to scroll through the entire post to see the previous.

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